Weatherizing Tips Yield Warmer Houses and Lower Fuel Bills
September 2, 2003
ATLANTA, Ga. - (Sept. 2, 2003) - As summer gives way to autumn, the cooling temperatures are a reminder that weatherizing your home now will maximize your heating efficiency and control your heating costs this winter.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that growing energy demands coupled with limited supplies will bring higher natural gas prices this winter, a trend that began several years ago.
Atlanta Gas Light Company (AGLC), which delivers natural gas to 1.5 million customers throughout Georgia, has some tips to help customers keep the chill at bay and manage their heating bills.
"We are concerned about potential natural gas price increases this winter. Making homes more energy-efficient is a way for consumers to save on their bills," said Isaac Blythers, president of AGLC. "Weatherization not only saves money, but it prevents the waste of our valuable energy resources. The investment of an hour with a caulking gun will pay off for homeowners."
According to Blythers, natural gas heating systems and appliances offer homeowners the highest total energy efficiency.
"Natural gas heat is warmer," he pointed out. "Air from a natural gas furnace is up to 25 degrees warmer than air from an electric heat pump. Many consumers find that when the temperature drops below 35 degrees, a heat pump is less effective for heating homes at a constant temperature."
Blythers said natural gas water heaters are less expensive than electric models to operate, and they heat water up to twice as fast: "Homeowners can cut water heating costs by 50 percent by using natural gas."
If you are considering updating an appliance, AGLC's Energy Wise Appliance Rebate Program offers rebates to consumers who purchase a new natural gas furnace, water heater, range and/or clothes dryer.
Rebates range from $200 for a new furnace to $100 for a water heater. Consumers will receive a rebate for each appliance purchased. The appliances may be purchased from any retail store or through AGLC's online retailer, www.buygasappliances.com. More information can be found at www.atlantagaslight.com/rebates or by calling (404) 584-3121.
Consumers should also investigate the billing plans offered by natural gas marketers, said Blythers. Some fixed-rate plans can save money by locking in a set price for customers.
If you need help weatherizing your home, Blythers said, you should contact a heating and air conditioning contractor or a home improvement specialist.
These weatherizing and conservation tips can save money:
- Have your furnace checked to make sure it is working at optimum capacity. Now is a good time to have your other fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves and water heaters examined as well.
- Consider installing a programmable thermostat, which can be a big energy saver. Different temperature settings can be programmed for different times of the day and night or even the days of the week.
- Change the disposable filters in your furnace before you turn it on for the winter. Remember to change the filters several times during the season.
- For safety's sake, make sure your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors are working. You should have an alarm and a detector on each floor of your home. Check the batteries regularly.
- Check for appropriate insulation in the walls and attic. If your basement is unfinished, the floor above the basement should be insulated.
- Find out if your insulation has the correct R-value, which is a measure of insulating value. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation ability.
- Close the damper on your fireplace when it is not in use.
- Insulate pipes so they won't freeze.
- Add weather-stripping and caulking to windows and doors. As much as 30 to 40 percent of a house's energy load is attributed to outside air penetrating the home.
- Add weather-stripping tapes that adhere directly to door and window frames for a tight seal. Add a door sweep for more insulation.
- Lower your water heater's thermostat setting to 120 degrees.
- Install a low-flow showerhead to save on hot water.
- Use the passive solar energy of your home by opening drapes and blinds during the day. Close them at night to retain heat.
- Lower your thermostat at night and when you are not going to be at home for several hours. Close off unoccupied rooms; close heating vents in those areas.
- Set the thermostat for 72 degrees F. in the daytime and drop it to 65 degrees at night. Not only will you save on energy costs, your house will not feel overheated.
- Take showers instead of baths. Showers use less hot water than baths.
- Wear layers of clothing or insulated clothing indoors.
- Put extra blankets or a down comforter on your bed.
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot.